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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | May 19, 2021 at 2:00 a.m.
Spicy Grilled Rib-Eye Cap With Avocado-Mango Salad (Courtesy of Cattlemen’s Beef Board)

A week's worth of quick, healthful meals for budget-minded families.

SUNDAY: Make family day special with Balsamic-Glazed Lamb Chops (see recipe). Serve the grilled chops with Rosemary Roasted Red Potatoes and Carrots: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss fresh chopped rosemary leaves with bite-size red potato pieces and baby carrots and a dash of olive oil. Roast on a rimmed baking pan, lined with nonstick foil, 20 to 25 minutes or until tender. Serve with a romaine salad and whole-grain rolls. Enjoy chocolate cake for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough cake for Tuesday.

MONDAY: Root Beer Barbecue Beef is just right for the kids. In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, place 1 (3- to 4-pound) beef rump or well-trimmed boneless chuck roast, cut into several pieces. In a medium bowl, mix together 1 cup regular root beer or cola (do not use diet) and 2 cups barbecue sauce; pour over beef. Cover and cook on low 7 to 9 hours or until beef is tender. Remove beef and shred. Turn cooker to high; cook liquid 30 minutes to reduce. Return shredded beef to cooker; mix well. To serve, spoon mixture onto toasted whole-grain buns. Serve with oven fries (from frozen) and carrot salad. Munch on apple slices for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough barbecue beef for Friday.

TUESDAY: Enjoy this Vegetable Paella (see recipe) for a no-meat dinner. Serve it with a spinach salad tossed with orange sections and red onion rings; add crusty bread. Slice the leftover cake for dessert.

WEDNESDAY: For a low-cost dinner, Mexican Pasta Skillet works well. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Cook 1 pound of ground turkey breast, 1 small chopped onion and 2 teaspoons cumin 6 minutes or until turkey is no longer pink and onion is softened. Stir in 1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce, 1 (11-ounce) can Mexican-style corn (rinsed ) and 1 cup any cooked pasta (or cooked rice). Add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro and cook until heated through. Garnish with Mexican-blend shredded cheese. Serve with guacamole, sour cream and corn tortillas. For dessert, make flan from a mix.

THURSDAY: Jazz up packaged soup for Tomato Blue Cheese Soup for a quick meal. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 (18.3-ounce) carton tomato-herb soup, 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with liquid, ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese, 2 teaspoons dried basil and 1 teaspoon sugar. Heat on low until cheese melts and soup is hot. Ladle into bowls and garnish with additional cheese if desired. Serve with deli ham sandwiches and a packaged green salad. How about peaches for dessert?

Tip: For a smoother soup, blend with an immersion blender before serving.

FRIDAY: Enjoy the leftover barbecue beef on toasted whole-grain buns tonight. Serve with deli coleslaw. For dessert, top fresh strawberries with light whipped cream.

Plan ahead: Save enough strawberries for Saturday.

SATURDAY: For your lucky guests tonight, make Spicy Grilled Rib-Eye Cap With Avocado-Mango Salad (see recipe). Serve the delicious combo with couscous, sugar snap peas and whole-grain rolls. It's the perfect time of year for strawberry shortcake for dessert.


Balsamic-Glazed Lamb Chops

  • 8 lamb rib chops, well-trimmed and cut 1 inch thick (about 1 ½ pounds total)
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce

Season chops with salt and pepper. Place them in a resealable plastic bag.

In a small bowl, combine juice, vinegar, honey and soy sauce. Pour over chops; turn to coat. Refrigerate chops 4 hours to overnight, turning bag occasionally. Drain lamb; reserve marinade.

For glaze, pour marinade into a small pan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 15 minutes or until liquid is reduced to about 1/3 cup; set aside.

Grill chops 12 to 17 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness. Brush chops with glaze halfway through grilling.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional information: Each serving contains approximately 186 calories, 20 g protein, 6 g fat, 11 g carbohydrate, 62 mg cholesterol, 348 mg sodium and no fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1.

■ ■ ■

Vegetable Paella

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh crimini mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 (5-ounce) packages or 1 (10-ounce) package yellow rice mix
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 (15- to 19-ounce) can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen green peas, thawed
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 tablespoon fresh)

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil on medium. Add onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and garlic; cook, stirring often, 8 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Add rice and water according to package directions; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover; cook 20 to 25 minutes or until rice is done. Stir in tomatoes, black beans, peas, paprika and basil. Heat through and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 306 calories, 12 g protein, 3 g fat, 60 g carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 672 mg sodium and 7 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 4.

■ ■ ■

Spicy Grilled Rib-Eye Cap With Avocado-Mango Salad

  • For the rub:
  • Juice of 1 lime, divided use
  • 1 medium jalapeno, minced (remove seeds and membranes for less heat)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 to 1 ¼ pounds beef rib-eye cap steaks (see note)
  • For the avocado-mango salad:
  • 1 large mango, sliced
  • 1 medium avocado, sliced
  • 4 thin slices red onion
  • ¼ cup crumbled queso fresco
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Combine 1 teaspoon lime juice and remaining rub ingredients and rub evenly onto steaks. Place steaks on grill over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 9 to 13 minutes (or 9 to 14 minutes over medium heat on gas grill) for medium-rare to medium doneness, turning occasionally.

Meanwhile, prepare Avocado-Mango Salad: Combine mango, avocado and onion in medium bowl; sprinkle with cheese and drizzle with reserved lime juice, tossing gently to coat. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Serve steaks with Avocado-Mango Salad.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: Rib-eye cap is the outer muscle of the beef rib-eye roll. The specific muscle that makes up this cut is the spinalis dorsi. Fast fact: Rib-eye cap has many names, but one of the more expressive terms is "butcher's butter."

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 286 calories, 22 g protein, 14 g fat, 19 g carbohydrate, 62 mg cholesterol, 55 mg sodium and 5 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email:


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